Whilst the weather played a significant part during the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend, on a more local level heavy rain also affected the seventh and final round of this year's Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series, with all the competitive runs held in biblically wet conditions. But whatever the Norfolk skies threw at Snetterton circuit on Saturday, it didn't stop Anthony Lidster from scoring his fifth FTD and Class D victory of the season and, in doing so, consolidated his position as this year's title-holder in the category for highly modified cars.
Likewise, Paul Allin made it five from seven and also underlined his claim on the title for Class C that he had secured last time out. In contrast, the battle for Class B could not have been closer, with Keith Bryan scoring his first FTD in the category this season. Consequently, Steve Peel and Ross Walker ended the day second and third respectively, which meant they ended up with exactly the same number of points, the tie-break for the title finally swinging in Walker's favour having won one more round than his rival.
In Class A - the category for cars that are closer to standard specification - it was Ian Fleming who not only took the spoils on the day but also for the season, his third victory of the year assured when it was discovered his closest challenger Jamie Hollett had to withdraw his Evo VI before the event due to mechanical issues.
The morning's practice sessions all took place in the dry. But, with the weather forecast predicting a dramatic change that afternoon, drivers and event organisers knew that conditions on the section of the Snetterton 100 circuit used as the sprint course would be very different for the competitive runs.
Fastest in the dry and setting the benchmark in Class D was Liddy in his Evo VI, whilst Walker and his less modified Evo VI were an impressive second fastest overall and quickest in Class B. Third quickest and again setting the Class C pace was Allin in an Evo V, with Fleming and his Evo II confirming his intentions for the afternoon session.
Wanting to ensure that everyone had a fair opportunity to compete on equal terms and knowing that the weather was set to change, organisers waited until the rain came before starting the competitive runs. And did it rain! It didn't take long before the track was saturated, which meant times for the runs dropped by at least six seconds - and more for those who had no option to change tyres.
Although providing challenging - and in some cases entertaining - driving conditions, there were four runs before organisers called a halt to proceedings, with the situation getting to a point where pumps had to be used in attempt to clear some of the standing water from the track.
The outcome of the day revealed a quartet of worthy class winners: In Class D and C it was Lidster and Allin who recorded their fifth victories of the season and stamp their authority on their respective categories, whereas in Class B, a delighted Bryan took his Evo VI to its first win of the year. With Peel finishing a close second and doing all he could to hang on to the hopes of the title, third place in the category was all Walker needed to secure the Class B title.
Before the event, it looked as though the battle for the Class A title was also going to go down to the wire, but when Hollett turned up with a completely different car due to problems with his Evo, a finish was all that Fleming needed to wrap things up. As it turned out, he ended his season with a third Class A win and a 15-point advantage in the final standings.
Although the stormy weather had done its worst to prematurely sign off the eighth consecutive season of the MLR Sprint series, it served to bring the 2014 curtain down in dramatic fashion. Looking ahead to next year, organsiers are pleased to report that, due to the continued popularity of the series, they are already making plans for 2015, with further details due to be announced soon.
The 2014 Pace Ward MLR Sprint Series was sponsored by: Pace Ward performance insurance, SuperPro suspension parts, AP Tuning, Ross Sport and HKS Europe.Round 7 Class Winners
Class Sponsor Driver Car TimeA SuperPro Ian Fleming Evo II 53.11B AP Tuning Keith Bryan Evo VI 50.72C Ross Sport Paul Allin Evo V 50.25D (FTD) HKS Europe Anthony Lidster Evo VI 47.41Class leaders - final standings
Class Driver Car PointsA Ian Fleming Evo II 490B Ross Walker Evo VI 475C Paul Allin Evo V 500D Anthony Lidster Evo VI 500ENDS